While I can attest to being a casual fan of Belle & Sebastian, over the first couple years when I was aware of them, perhaps 2001-2003, I tended to agree with my friend that introduced me to most of the indie rock that I would later consume endlessly--that they were "boring." I should never dare to utter this condemnation aloud, however, because I mostly became exposed to B&S at NYU. They were quite popular at the time, and many swore by songs like "Get Me Away from Here I'm Dying," and If You're Feeling Sinister in general. I found it pleasant, but only for a particular mood, like studying or crying. Well, not crying so much. I was more into music to cry to at the time, and B&S were not emo, but fey or twee. Then Dear Catastrophe Waitress came out, and I liked it a bit more, but still found parts a bit boring. Recently, due to this book I had cause to discover "Your Cover's Blown," which is a B-side from that era, and it's amazing. Perhaps that was leading into the direction of The Life Pursuit which became my favorite album by them. I think their last two albums are pretty good, too. I mention this because, I was embarrassed by not liking B&S enough between 2001-2003. And it doesn't seem good enough to be a casual fan--they have no casual fans. I would say this sentiment changed generally if one thinks they've gone more mainstream in the mid-to-late aughts, or they haven't been as good, or lost part of what made them special in the first place. In any case, if they were into B&S, they were way into them.
And I mention this because the person who had occasion to recommend this book to me says he does not even like them very much. He said he thought I should read it because something about it reminded him of my writing.
So naturally, I looked for the thing that was reminiscent of my own work, in style or substance. First, there was the beginning of the book, which describes an unusual public subsidy, a sort of extremely disorganized music course, that doesn't seem possible in places like the U.S. I wrote a story (http://flyinghouses.blogspot.com/2008/07/failure-inc.html) which imagined a similar "job in the production of creative art." Second, the attention to the sometimes mundane and seemingly unremarkable detail. In my case, they are simply unremarkable details, but in Stuart David's case, they seem to indicate a deeper theme of the book.
The first passage that merits mention is something from the beginning of the book, because it is easily one of the most hilarious portions of it. But there is a touch of something wondrous about it too, that David captures:
"I looked down the list of courses again, even more desperately this time, and it remained a sorry selection: flower arranging, dog grooming, car mechanics. But then, just when I was on the verge of giving up all hope, something seemed to materialise near the bottom of the page--a late addition, in tiny writing. A course in Glasgow that appeared to have something to do with popular music. I thought I might be hallucinating. I called the flipchart man over and asked him about it. He took the piece of paper from me and stood starting at it blankly.
'Hmn...' he said after a while. 'I didn't know that was on there. That sounds strange.'
Then he wrote my name down, said he would look into it for me and sent us all home." (6)
"One thing that particularly intrigued me, though, as I wandered around, was the poster which hung on at least one wall of every room I went into.
In summary, this book should please both the hardcore and casual B&S fan, as well as those just looking for a relatively quick and rewarding read. David's attention to detail is exceptional, and many will be encouraged (or at least entertained) by his story.